The New York Times Magazine today ran this fine essay by Jan Ellison. Cafe patron Mike Wilson, applauding Ms. Ellison’s essay, sent the following letter to her by e-mail (pasted here with Mr. Wilson’s kind permission):
Dear Ms. Ellison,
I greatly enjoyed your description of the many benefits you accrued by working at so many different jobs in your youth. Your story is as powerful a case against raising the minimum wage as I have encountered. How sad that so many of today’s politicians and pundits have successfully advocated to use government force to deprive low-skilled workers, such as teenagers in poor families, the opportunities you had to develop your valuable work habits and help your family. No amount of cherry picked (and flawed) studies showing no loss of employment opportunities will help the many unemployed youth (especially African American youth: over 40%!) who will not learn the many valuable life-changing lessons you describe in your column. And you worked from age eleven! Did you secretly buck child labor laws? And now the same ill-informed and self-righteous pundits who support an above-market minimum wage are agitating to eliminate unpaid internships!
Your wonderful column is powerful testimony to the many non-wage benefits of working at so-called menial jobs. I only hope some day that well-meaning but economically ignorant politicians will come to understand that. Thank you for providing such compelling testimony.
Mr. Wilson reports that Ms. Ellison responded to his e-mail to express her, her husband’s, and her son’s wholehearted agreement with it.
(Ms. Ellison’s essay, of course, would likely not surprise Jeffrey Clemens and Michael Wither.)